No north tunnel as Minneapolis and Met Council reach agreement on Southwest Light Rail

trail photo
Under the agreement, both freight trains and light rail vehicles will use the Kenilworth corridor.

Minneapolis and Metropolitan Council officials have reached a tentative agreement on the Southwest Light Rail corridor that would eliminate one of the tunnels and add back a 21st Street station.

If approved by both sides, the budget for Southwest light rail will be reduced by $30 million, from $1.683 billion to $1.653 billion.

Another agreement says that the Met Council will work with Minneapolis and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority:

“… to ensure that the Kenilworth freight corridor remains in public ownership, which the parties agree will decrease the chances that freight trains will increase in frequency or carry more dangerous cargo through the corridor.”

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement that the deal could have been worse:

“Our support now comes at a high cost — an unexpected and unwelcome cost — because freight was supposed to be removed. Governor Dayton is correct: the Kenilworth Corridor will not be the same. It could have been far worse, however, if not for the protections secured in this tentative agreement. With freight staying in the corridor, and given the constraints we face, this is the most responsible way to get the project built.”

Upcoming steps in the process:

The Met Council will hold meeting of the Southwest Corridor Management Committee Wednesday at 10 a.m. to review and discuss the tentative agreement. The Metropolitan Council will meet on Wednesday at 4 p.m. to consider approving the amended preliminary project scope and budget and set a joint public hearing with Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority for August 13, 2014, where residents will be invited to testify.

If approved, the Metropolitan Council will present a new municipal consent package to the city on Thursday, July 10, triggering a new timeline for a final municipal consent vote from Minneapolis. Hennepin County will vote on August 19, 2014, at a special board meeting to approve municipal consent.

The Minneapolis City Council’s Transportation & Public Works Committee reviewed the basic outline this morning. A public briefing is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Ave. S., to provide more specific details about the tentative agreement and provide public comment. Another public hearing on municipal consent on Aug. 19. The City Council will vote on municipal consent at its regular meeting on Aug.  29.

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